Rating: R for subject matter
Spoilers: No real spoilers.
Archive: Please ask first!
Disclaimer: Obviously, I don't own anything related to CSI. If I did, I'd be on a tropical beach right now.
Author's Note: The chapter titles are opening lines from Emily Dickinson poems. Thanks to Burked and all the others who previewed this for me.
Summary: After viewing a horrific accident, Sara makes some hard decisions about her life. Obviously, a Sara-centered story, but with lots of friendship and a little bit of G/S at the end.
Chapter 19 - Soul, wilt thou toss again?
Grabbing a cold bottle of water from the refrigerator, Grissom swallowed his migraine medicine before collapsing on his bed, trying to sleep instead of reliving that morning's events. It didn't take long before he realized it was a futile effort.
There was no doubt Sara was avoiding him. She wouldn't look at him during the meeting in the sheriff's office, nor later in his office. When he tried to talk to her at Nick's, she gave quick answers, never meeting his eyes. She actually took a step away from him when he had tried to touch her arm.
Grissom knew that Kane said not to take it personally, but he found he couldn't detach himself. It was very personal. Guiltily, he realized he was upset because her actions hurt. It wasn't like she was trying deliberately to hurt him.
Unlike what he had done to her.
That was a mistake he would continue to pay for, he realized sadly. Avoiding her seemed like a good idea at the time, but now the consequences of his imposed distance was hurting Sara. Sighing, he shifted in his bed, trying to find a more comfortable position. If it wasn't a deliberate attempt to hurt him, then why was she avoiding him?
Guilt? Nick had said something about her questioning her actions. Logically, that didn't make any sense. There was nothing she could have done to help that boy. Of course, this wasn't a logical situation.
Did she think she had let him down? He had brought Sara to the lab and now she couldn't do her job. Given her workaholic nature and sense of responsibility, that was a possibility.
Embarrassment was a definite chance. Sara was normally a very self-reliant woman. This whole situation would be hard on her.
Fear? Was she afraid what others thought of her? If they thought she was unstable? Was Sara afraid that she wouldn't be able to do her job anymore?
If she couldn't return to work, what would Sara do? She defined herself by her job. Being a CSI wasn't how she earned a paycheck, it was who she was. Would she be willing, or even able, to take a lab job? Could that satisfy her? If not, would she leave?
Pushing those thoughts down, Grissom let the medication do its work. He needed sleep before the evening's memorial service for the children who had died. Sara insisted on going and Kane hadn't overruled her. Grissom worried that it wouldn't be a good idea. But he'd be there. If she wouldn't accept his physical support, the least he could do would be to be there for moral support.
Catherine pulled back the sheets and happily climbed into her bed. She was beat. The drive back from Nick's had been quiet. All she had said to Sara was that she would be available any time she wanted to talk. Sara had thanked her with a smile and turned to sort through her mail.
The older woman hoped Sara's parents would be able to help her. They were due to arrive that evening. Despite the brunette's earlier assertions they were good parents, Catherine had her doubts. Honest or not, they could have been more careful, more supportive, of Sara during their interview. Luckily, none of the press had dug into their backgrounds. They would have had a field day with that.
She wondered if she should ask Sara about Grissom. The blonde couldn't help but think something was up. Since blowing up at him yesterday afternoon, Sara had shared what sounded like a very nice dinner with Grissom, then gave him passes to one of the city's nicest restaurants. There was some strange undercurrent going on when Catherine had walked in on them in the break room and she clearly was trying to avoid him this morning.
Well, Sara would tell her when she was ready. She'd grill Grissom later. He probably did something stupid again.
Snuggling into the mattress, she gladly let sleep take over.
Sara stared at Lindsay's bed warily, as if the pink-and-white cotton coverings posed a danger. She wanted desperately to sleep, but did not want to face another nightmare. Especially with Catherine there. The older woman had already done so much for her. She didn't want to deny Catherine any more sleep.
Switching her stare to the bottle of pills in her hand, Sara carried on a silent debate with herself. She had been adamant that she didn't want to take any drugs if possible and Kane had agreed. He did give her this bottle of sleeping pills, though, in case she needed their help.
Sara knew they were just a mild, generic sleep aid she could have bought herself at any drug store in the country. Still, taking them would be making an admission she wasn't ready to acknowledge.
She knew she needed help. If she couldn't recover, Sara knew she never be able to return to the field. That was a future the brunette didn't want to consider. So, she'd do whatever Philip asked of her. They had worked out a schedule of appointments. He gave her the address of a support group for accident survivors. She would start a journal, take up a hobby. She would accept the help of her friends.
Letting out a deep sigh of disgust, she opened the bottle. Taking out a single pill, she bit it in half. Dry-swallowing one part, she tossed the remainder back into the bottle.
Sara knew she was mess, but she'd be damned if she would surrender without putting up a fight.
Whether it was the medication, sheer exhaustion or her earlier emotional release, Sara managed five hours of sleep without a nightmare. She woke up gradually, feeling better than she had in days, reality slowly creeping back.
After taking a leisurely shower and changing into fresh clothes, she wandered into the kitchen to make coffee. Checking the time, she realized Lindsay would be getting out of school soon. Sara wondered if she would go to stay with a nanny or if Catherine would get up to be with her.
Moving to the refrigerator, Sara surveyed the contents before checking out the cabinets, occasionally pulling out items or cooking utensils.
When Catherine awoke later, the first thing she noticed was the smell. Heading into kitchen, she found Sara taking a tray out of the oven.
"Hey," the older woman said in confusion, crossing the room to get some coffee.
"Hey," Sara said in return, holding out her burden. "Want a cookie?"
"Sara Sidle really can cook," she teased, reaching to take one of the hot offerings. "Damn, these are good!"
The brunette gave her a look of mock-indignation. "Does Linds prefer lasagna or spaghetti?"
"Either. She's not picky about pasta. Why?"
"I made some sauce, put didn't know which she'd rather have for dinner. I was going to make pizza, but there wasn't time for the dough to rise," Sara explained.
"I thought you hated to cook?" Catherine asked curiously.
"I do. But I was bored. And it was the least I could do. After all you've done. I, I really appreciate this, Cath. I know it can't be easy having the crazy lady in the same house with your kid," Sara's tone was light, but the blonde could detect the pain in it.
"Well, she survives me. You shouldn't be any trouble," Catherine quipped. Sara grinned in thanks.
Grissom waited outside the cathedral nervously. He had called Catherine earlier to see if they wanted to join him for dinner and was surprised to find they had already eaten. A meal Sara apparently cooked. Instead, he came directly to the service, glad that he had. The parking lot was nearly full and it would be an hour before it started. Luckily, they had reserved a spot for the families and guests, including Sara.
Once again, he sighed deeply, running his hand through his hair. He couldn't help but think this was a mistake. Sara was already upset and he was afraid this would make it worse. He looked up in surprise when Brass joined him.
"Hey, Jim. Wasn't expecting you," he said.
"Yeah, you know me. Never miss a party," he replied darkly. "What's up with Sara?"
"What do you mean?" Grissom asked cautiously. He hoped news of the 'incident' hadn't reached the police department.
"There's a rumor going around that Sara won't be in the field any more. That she's taking some other position," Brass said.
"She's working on a special project for Mobley. An internal review," Grissom said evenly. "Don't know how long it'll take."
"Uh, huh. Good. She shouldn't be in the field now. Not for a while yet," the police captain said. "It'll be good when she's back, though," he added kindly.
"Yeah," was Grissom's only response.
The two friends stood in silence until Catherine's car was directed to one of the reserved spots. They moved in to escort Sara through the throng of reporters standing behind makeshift barriers. Grissom didn't touch Sara, but gave her a gentle smile and stood near her side. Brass didn't hesitate to grab her arm and walk her past the yelling crowd.
A young priest showed them into an anteroom where an older priest was talking to Sgt. O'Riley.
"Sara, this is Father Duncan. He helped at the scene," the detective said. "He wanted to talk to you."
She looked at him curiously. He was tall and although he was approaching 70, still strong, with kind, intelligent eyes. This was the priest from the photograph; the one who had taken O'Riley's niece. Holding her hand out to him, Sara walked over. "Hello, Father."
Taking her hand in both of his, he brought it up to his lips slowly. "I'm so sorry," he said, tears forming in his eyes. "Please forgive me."
Sara looked at him in shock. "Why?"
"I didn't follow you into the bus. I was afraid. When I smelled the smoke from the truck, I panicked. You shouldn't have had to face that alone. I was a medic in Korea, before I became a priest. I knew what to expect. Maybe that's why I panicked, I don't know. You are so young; you didn't need to have experienced that. I'm so sorry," he repeated softly, his tears flowing freely.
"There's nothing you could have done," Sara whispered, unconsciously repeating the fact Philip Kane had discussed with her that morning. "There was nothing you could have done." Without thinking, she let the priest pull her into a hug and joined in his tears.
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